A 16-year-old girl, Chinyere, has narrated how suspected Fulani herdsmen abducted her and other co-travellers at the Okada junction on the Benin-Ore Expressway, Edo State.
The victim said she was held for five days as the herdsmen tortured the men in the group with sticks, guns and cutlasses.
The Abia State indigene told our correspondent that they were released after paying different sums as ransom.
The matter was said to have been reported at the Edo State Police Command Headquarters, Benin City.
Chinyere explained that she was going to sit the post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination at the Abia State University, Uturu, when the incident happened on Saturday, July 20, 2019.
She said, “I boarded a Sienna vehicle at the Volks motor park in Badagry, Lagos State, and we embarked on the journey around 8am. When we got to the Okada junction around 6pm, we saw two tankers blocking a side of the road.
“Suddenly, some men came out of the bush wielding guns, sticks and cutlasses. Our driver saw them from afar, opened the door and ran away. Three other passengers also fled. Those people then came and took us away. Four of us were abducted that day.
“We trekked a long distance into the bush. We were camped in an open space. By night, they started calling our family members with our phones. They gave us the phones to talk to them so that our families would know our condition. They demanded N10m from each of our families.”
She explained that on the first and second days, the herdsmen did not provide any food for them.
However, on Monday, she said rice was prepared as the only meal for the day.
Chinyere stated, “They cooked beans on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we ate eba. We were eating once a day.
“My set was abducted on Saturday. On Sunday, the abductors came with more people; we were all eight –five females and three males. They tortured the men a lot with their big cow sticks. They did not do anything to the females.”
She said the suspected Fulani herdsmen continued bargaining with each victim’s family, as they asked how much had been raised as ransom.
Asked how she knew that the men were Fulani, she said, “Their language! They were six and were fully armed. Each of them had a gun. They communicated more with each other in their language, but spoke occasionally to us in English. At a point, they started saying they were tired of keeping us and they needed to go and abduct more people.
“Shortly after they abducted the second set of victims, we heard gunshots between them and the police. It lasted for about one and a half hours. We learnt that they killed a policeman during the exchange of fire.
“In the end, they collected N200,000 each from the families of three of us. A Yoruba Muslim man paid N50,000. Two sisters, who were abducted with their friend, paid N1.5m and were released earlier than the rest of us. One lady, who told them that she was an orphan and without any relative, was freed without any ransom, because there was nobody to call.”
Chinyere said the herdsmen asked the families to pay the ransom into the account of the relative of one of the victims, who lives in Benin, and the woman was then instructed to bring all the money.
The teenager described her experience as hellish, adding that they were beaten by the rain twice.
She said she reported the incident at the Edo State Police Command Headquarters in Benin, adding that she was also admitted to hospital for check-up and treatment.
Chinyere stated that because of the experience, she could not sit the post-UTME and might have to wait for another year.
The victim’s father, Eze Ikechukwu, stated that he borrowed money to raise the ransom.
He decried the attitude of the people at the Badagry motor park, saying though they confirmed the abduction of the passengers, they refused to help him.
The father of four explained that his daughter’s ordeal had shown him that there was no security in the country.
“How can kidnapping and armed robbery happen on the same Benin-Ore road where there are many police checkpoints? When I went to report in Benin, the police told me that the weapons that those herdsmen had were more sophisticated than theirs and they could not risk their lives. So, how do you convince me that there is security in that kind of situation?” he queried.
The Edo State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, said he would call back our correspondent to respond to questions on the incident, but had yet to do so as of press time. [PUNCH]